By Daryl Habraken
A wonderful documentary, educational for a new generation and packed with nostalgia for those of us born pre 1980.
Using archival footage and audio recordings, combined with recent interviews and reenactments, Poi E - The Story of Our Song takes us back to a far simpler time in a small town, Patea, a town that for a brief moment captured the musical imagination of the world.
Back in the early 80s the community of Patea was on the edge of extinction. The life blood of the town, the meat works, was about to close leaving huge uncertainty for everyone who lived there.
Enter Dalvanius Prime (yes gen-y that is his real name, not a transformer). A musician with a drive to create a sound that was closer to his cultural roots yet takes advantage of the soul and R&B skills he had developed over 10 years prior.
This film is as much about the life of Dalvanius and his personal search for cultural identity as it is the impact Poi E had on Patea and New Zealand culture as a whole.
Poi E - The Story of Our Song is packed with laughs as towns folk reminisce about the ridiculousness of creating a maori based pop song, the challenges it brought and the success it attracted.
Anecdotal conversations with artists and entertainers including Taika Waititi, The Topp Twins, Stan Walker and others share stories of how the song inspired and impacted them or even just created a tent pole moment in the soundtrack of their lives.
It's an emotional ride, a historical ride and a ride well worth taking. Well paced, well shot and a great look into a moment of New Zealand's recent history that also serves as an intriguing look into how far we’ve come socially as a nation.